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South Korea to invest $250B in missile defense, submarines

South Korea is to invest billions of dollars in the defense of the Seoul metropolitan area and on new submarines, according to local press reports Monday. File Photo by Yonhap
South Korea is to invest billions of dollars in the defense of the Seoul metropolitan area and on new submarines, according to local press reports Monday. File Photo by Yonhap

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- South Korea is to invest more than $250 billion in missile defense systems and new submarines to help deter North Korea military threats.

According to South Korea's five-year defense program for 2021-25, Seoul is to develop a missile interceptor similar to Israel's Iron Dome, Yonhap and Money Today reported Monday.

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The Israeli system, designed to intercept and destroy short-range projectiles and artillery shells, is to serve as a model for South Korea's missile defense. The Cheongung medium-range surface-to-air missile defense system could be used to build Korea's Iron Dome, according to reports.

South Korea's missile interceptor system would be used to protect the Seoul metropolitan area, including satellite cities in Gyeonggi Province, against North Korean artillery fire.

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Seoul's military plan is to primarily neutralize North Korea security threats while maintaining preparedness to potential security challenges that could arise in the region. According to Money Today, the plan is part of Seoul's policy to cope with the country's defense needs after 2022, when South Korea and the United States are expected to complete the transfer of wartime Operational Control Authority. OPCON transfer would leave Seoul in charge of all forces in the U.N. Command.

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The defense ministry has also confirmed plans to build 3,600-ton and 4,000-ton submarines. The military is expected to install submarine-launched ballistic missiles, but a decision on whether the submarines are to be nuclear-powered is pending, according to reports. South Korea has agreed with the United States to not use nuclear power for military purposes.

Washington and Seoul recently agreed South Korea could revise missile guidelines that would allow for the use of solid fuel space rockets to launch military satellites.

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On Monday, Seoul also officially confirmed plans to construct 30,000-ton light aircraft carriers. The warships are expected to be complete by early 2030.

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